A concept that has only been depicted in movies may be an actuality in the not so distant future.
Both Chinese and European space agencies are discussing setting up a collaborative effort to participate in joint missions, while sharing a base on the moon.
“The Chinese have a very ambitious moon program already in place,” said Pal Hvistendahl, a spokesman for the European Space Agency (ESA) to Bloomberg last Wednesday. “Space has changed since the space race of the 60s. We recognize that to explore space for peaceful purposes, we do international cooperation.”
Previously, Tian Yulong, the secretary general for China’s space agency, mentioned the lunar project to the Chinese state media.
This “moon village” would be where both the Chinese and European agencies could work together to launch other missions, like visiting Mars, developing tourism projects, and conducting research.
China has been ramping up its space travel programs since its first flight in 2003. In mid-April, the China National Space Administration launched an unmanned spacecraft to dock at the unoccupied space station on the moon the country has set up.
By the end of the year, China is planning to launch another mission to collect samples from the moon. Then eventually they are planning to launch the first mission to visit the moon’s far side and to bring back samples from the area.
ESA is hoping to start the collaborative effort by doing an analysis on the materials collected by these upcoming Chinese missions and then eventually having European space crafts flying on the Chinese space station in the future.
There is no projected timeline for when the moon base will be operational.
So why isn’t the U.S. involved?
“China was excluded from the International Space Station mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program’s strong military connections,” writes Bloomberg.
Author’s note: While, China’s society seems to be ascending the ladder to first world status, Europe is in a state of chaos, with the Brexit, the migrant crisis, terrorist attacks, etc. It looks like China sees an opportunity to “partner” with Europe and attempt to get a technology lead over the U.S. Although, Trump has done his best to improve relations with China, the country is our biggest competition when it comes to technology and resources.